Mens Health: How often should you be checking the goods?
23 Aug 2018 HEALTH & WELLNESS
By: Natasha Archary
Men are less likely to get a routine medical checkup than women. Prostate cancer ranks at the top of the list of cancer that men in South Africa test positive for. Many men choose to ignore the first warning signs that something may be wrong in the nether regions.
A survey found that 55% of men had not been to a doctor for a physical exam in over a year. What’s worse is that 40% of the men who do go to see a doctor do so only after symptoms become unbearable.
The thought of a rectal exam has for years been the deterring factor for many heterosexual men to screen for prostate cancer. The good news is that you may not need one. You could opt for the Prostate Antigen Screening (PSA) blood test instead.
Now that we’ve given you some peace of mind, if you are forty and above, you should not put this off any further.
Why is a prostate screening important?
According to CANSA, in South Africa, prostate cancer is the most common. The “Big Five” cancers affecting men are: prostate, colorectal, Kaposi Sarcoma (a type of skin cancer), lung cancer and bladder cancer.
The scary thing is that early on-set prostate cancer can be completely asymptomatic. So by the time you notice signs or symptoms, the likelihood the cancer has spread to beyond the confines of the prostatic capsule are high.
Testicular cancer is another concern for men. Much like breast cancer, men can check for abnormalities in the area monthly. Watch for irregular increases in size or lumps in the testicles.
Who does the screening?
Consult with your family doctor at least once a year. With solid knowledge of your medical history, your doctor will be able to perform the necessary prostate exam or refer you to a urologist for the PSA screening.
The rectal exam is a little invasive but it is often the quickest way to rule out prostate cancer. Many doctors still prefer this method of screening because the PSA screenings may not be completely accurate. Some drugs may lower or increase the level of PSA resulting in a false positive or false negative. Something to keep in mind when making a decision on how to screen.
How often should men be checking up on the goods?
A prostate exam should be done once every four years for men forty and up. If you have a family history of prostate or testicular cancer, you are advised to screen once a year.
Should you start to notice any of the following symptoms, consult with your doctor:
- Higher frequency of urinating
- Difficulty starting or stopping urination
- Interrupted, weak or slow urinary stream
- Blood in urine or semen
- Discomfort, pain or burning sensation with urination or ejaculation
- Intense pain on the lower back, hips or thighs
This depends on the stage of the cancer as well as other factors that are directly linked to you ie. life expectancy, other chronic conditions you may have, lifestyle etc. however, surgery and radiation is facilitated to aim for total cure. There are hormonal treatment options which are there to limit further progression of the disease.
Doctors still do not have all the answers when it comes to cancer, with some conspiracy theorists questioning whether a cure would mean zero profits for the billion-dollar pharmaceutical industry. They do advise a diet that limits a high intake of red meat, dietary fat and a sober, active lifestyle.
Tomatoes are said to contain lycopene, a cancer preventing ingredient and it’s suggested men increase this as well as Omega 3 rich foods and anti-oxidants like selenium and vitamins D and E as well.
Using Dr Google to diagnose yourself isn’t helping, so rather get the screening over and done with so you can get on top of things, whatever the result.